Some more useful info from

Way back in 1978, Ellen Langer, Professor of Psychology at Harvard, published a research study about the power of one particular word. In this study, Langer had people ask to break into a line of people waiting to use a busy copy machine on a college campus. The researchers used that particular word in one series of tests and didn’t use the word in the other series. They found that using the word got up to 94% compliance. So, what is that powerful word?


The researchers had the study participants use three different, carefully worded requests to try to break into the head of the line:

1.     “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?”

2.     “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make copies?”

3.     “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush?”

The results: #1 got 60% compliance; #2 got 93% and #3 got 94% compliance!

Using the word “because” and then giving a reason resulted in significantly more compliance. This was true even when the reason was not very compelling (“because I have to make copies”).

So what’s the moral of this story?

When you’re giving direction, needing compliance, or just need to get more done, remember to include “because” and then the reason.

Use this technique next time you make any request of your employees BECAUSE you’ll get more done with less hassle.

Need a great speaker for your next meeting? Give me a call; let’s talk!
Mel Kleiman, Founder & President
(713) 771.4401

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